The Major League Soccer (MLS) got under way in late February and has been providing fans with its usual blend of drama and excitement. Out in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United, Nashville and FC Cincinnati are all joint first. Meanwhile, over in the Western Conference, St Louis City are slightly ahead of the rest of the pack.
Last season, LA Galaxy took the MSL championship after a hard-fought game against Philadelphia Union. Gareth Bale scored an equalizer in the 128th minute that pulled the game back to 3-3 and forced it into penalty kicks. The game will go down in MSL legend.
The wide variety of players in the MSL make it a fascinating league to follow. Below is a look at some of the players to keep your eye on this season.
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Jack McGlynn is a midfielder for Philadelphia Union and has serious talent. He’s already played for the USA at U16 and U20 level, although he could represent the Republic of Ireland. Some think the world could see him in action at the U20 World Cup for the US.
McGlynn is just 19 but has already played more than 50 first team matches for his side in all the competitions. His contract runs until 2025, so he’s got plenty of time to show his side and the rest of the world what he can do. The club’s sporting director, Ernst Tanner, has spoken in a statement of how McGlynn can do special things on the ball and of how the club believe he’s still far from his peak as a player.
McGlynn’s career has picked up real pace. He started out with local side BW Gottschee, and in 2019, the (Philadelphia) Union academy scooped him up. In 14 USL games with the Philadelphia Union II, he scored five goals and managed three assists. The club wasted no time in offering him a deal with the senior team.
Riqui Puig is a central midfielder for LA Galaxy and for several seasons was a loyal servant of Spanish giants Barcelona before signing for the Los Angeles side. The MLS is packed with creative players, and Puig is one of them. In 2022, the league really saw his creative side. He played more than 1,000 minutes for the team and 10 regular games.
Puig also lends the side extra attacking impetus. For a midfielder in the MLS, his shooting stats were higher than average. This season though, fans will be hoping to see more of Puig and that in the matches he will control the direct the tempo and help his team climb up towards the top of the table.
Belgian Dante Vanzier will be the man the New York Bulls hope can help them challenge hard for trophies this season. The forward served Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise for three seasons. In 92 appearances for the club, he scored 48 goals and chalked up 21 assists. He was also the Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner in 2020 in the Challenger Pro League.
As well as being a formidable goal scorer, he’s fast and shows good movement off the ball, which makes him a handful for defenders to track. Vanzier brings a lot of experience to his side, having joined KCR Genk’s youth system when he was 11 and then the first team in 2016. He’s also played for Beerschot VA and KA Mechelen.
Jose Cifuentes is a defensive midfielder with Californians Los Angeles FC and is one of the league’s biggest prospects since making his journey to the team from Ecuador in 2020. His perforoamnces have ensure LAFC are the favorites to win the MLS Cup in the online betting odds. Although he’s just 24, he’s been a reliable player for his side, and some have compared him with Riqui Puig over in LA Galaxy.
When he was 11 years old, Cifuentes followed his older brother into football. His sibling was playing as a goalkeeper at Escuela de Futbol Semillero, in Santo Domino, Ecuador. Cifuentes began his official youth club career at Independiente del Valle, in 2016. He has started for his country seven times and scored a goal against the US in the 2018 U20 World Cup, and in 2019, he played in his debut senior national team match against Peru. The game was a friendly and ended 1-0 in Ecuador’s favor.
The MSL is an exciting league packed with talent. Keep your eye open for the players above and see how they progress. Other players you might also want to watch include Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Monahad Jeaze (DC United) and Pedro Vite (Vancouver Whitecaps).